Teeth grinding is not harmless, it is a nervous habit that can cause those affected needless pain and suffering. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common problem affecting up to one in five Americans. For some affected, the effects from teeth grinding are minor and are little more than a minor annoyance. However, for many others, teeth grinding is a significant problem that leads to dental injury. In fact, teeth grinding can cause serious enamel wear, tooth decay, and even tooth fracturing.
In addition, teeth grinding causes other harmful side effects including the aggravation of jaw-joint disorders, headaches, and loosened teeth. The loud noises generated by nighttime teeth grinders can also disturb sleeping partners, which strains relationships as a consequence.
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, you may feel like you have no control over this problem. While you can't force yourself to behave differently while you sleep, you can prevent teeth grinding or mitigate its effects.
The most common devices to treat teeth grinding are dental guards and splints. The purpose of splints and guards varies depending on the treatment goals. Patients often have to experiment to find the approach that works best for them.
Patients often wear splints and guards in an effort to prevent damaging the teeth. These devices serve as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth and reduce the amount of rubbing that occurs between the two sets of teeth. While these devices don't stop your teeth from grinding, they will make the grinding essentially harmless for your teeth. As long as your bruxism doesn't aggravate your jaw or cause headaches or other symptoms, this kind of splint or guard may work for you.
In other instances, splints and guards are designed to partially immobilize the jaw and prevent movement altogether. If your teeth grinding causes secondary symptoms like jaw problems, this option may be best for you. Alternatively, you may be prescribed a mouth guard that will actually realign the entire bite pattern, hopefully resulting in the teeth moving past each other altogether.
Dental splints and guards can introduce some unpleasant side effects such as gagging or excess saliva production. However, they can be adjusted to help lessen or eliminate the negative effects.
If you are experiencing teeth grinding, contact Dr. Allison O'Brien to find a treatment that will best protect your teeth plus alleviate the troubling symptoms of teeth grinding.